We humans are not innately patient, as a species. Patience is something we have to cultivate.
Now, it’s all very well and good to say, “I need to learn to be more patient,” but ...how? Up until a year ago, no one had ever really taught me how. No one had ever given me practical steps.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with waiting for something to happen. We have to wait for things all the time; to check out at the grocery store, for those fun shoes we ordered to come in. But when we are waiting for something big, perhaps even life-changing—say, for an answer from a production company about whether or not they want to option your script – the days can seem to last forever. This kind of waiting can cause anxiety, anger, fear, resentment, self-doubt, even depression. How to wait, when waiting causes these emotions, which then feel as though the process is eating us alive?
Of these side-effects of waiting, Anxiety was my thing. I had to be admitted to the ER (with chest pains) FOUR SEPARATE TIMES before I’d admit that I had a problem with anxiety. Prozac didn’t help; it only made me feel ‘checked out’ and numb. St. John’s Wort sort of helped, but not really, not consistently. Yoga didn’t help because I just didn’t really like it all that much, so I never did enough of it to reap any benefit. Massage helped with the side-effects of anxiety (Fibromyalgia, sore muscles strained to their breaking point from constant fight-or-flight), but never addressed the root of the anxiety. And talk therapy, which I’d done on and off for years, only confirmed that I’d ‘had a tough life’, but did nothing for the gripping and painful spasms in my chest, the sleepless nights, the spiraling negative thoughts, or any of the other nasty little symptoms that come along with anxiety.
When I discovered Wu Ming Qigong, and began practicing (daily) I no longer experienced anxiety. I might feel a feeling like impatience, anger, or frustration – but I was able to feel and process it, so it would pass through my system, and be released... instead of festering and getting ‘trapped’ in my chest or muscles. (These are not technical terms; this is just my experience of what was happening.)
When I am practicing Qigong each day (and a full practice only takes about 25 minutes), I experience patience during the practice itself. Sometimes I am doing one of the movements, and I just want to stop, for no reason (or, in my head, it's "boring"). But if I simply ignore that childish thought, or remind myself of the benefits, I can focus in on the present moment (even if that's just doing the dishes), and complete what I'm working on.
Wu Ming Qigong practice is basically training me to experience patience in my everyday life. Yes, I am waiting for something, but if I focus in on what I am doing in the present moment, the waiting is easier, or temporarily forgotten. And the thoughts around what I’m waiting for are more reasoned, more loving. “I’m waiting because someone is saying ‘yes’; they haven’t yet said, ‘no’, which is good. Saying 'no' is easy, a quick phone call that gets me off their to-do list. So the fact that they haven't yet said 'no' is a very positive thing. So I should continue to wait and see, with optimism. Because something really amazing could very well come out of this situation.”
Why is this? Qigong is based on the basic principle (backed up by discoveries in modern physics) that everything is energy. This energy, in Traditional Chinese thought, is known as Qi (pronounced "chee"). It is thought that Qi moves through certain 'meridians' in the body (this is what an acupuncturist 'taps' with their needles). With Wu Ming Qigong, you become your own doctor, massaging the meridians with simple movements, allowing Qi to flow freely. It is thought that blocked Qi is the cause of most physical or emotional imbalances, and that, by unblocking the Qi, wellness and balance will be restored.
Now, do I know for a fact that this is the case? No. It's rather mysterious, in fact. But I have been able to set aside my Western mindset long enough to practice Wu Ming Qigong, and I have witnessed changes (both mental and emotional) for myself. And when I don’t practice my Qigong every day, let me tell you, the pain, anxiety and depression come back. In the past two weeks, I’ve only managed about 1 or 2 practices and man, do I feel it. Negative thoughts, lack of energy, loss of sleep, tension in my jaw, neck, and upper back muscles. It's not just physical, but mental and emotional. It’s almost like not doing Qigong now is a punishment.
And the same goes for eating healing foods, taking Chinese herbs and tea, and getting enough rest (and not too much alcohol): all of these things make me feel good; not doing them contributes to feeling bad. If I’m not doing these things every day, it bears the question: “Why? Why punish myself? What have I done, to feel (deep down) that I do not deserve to feel healthy, or happy, and at peace?”
Those are hard questions, and I honestly do not always know the answer. Sometimes I’ll remember a snippet of something from my past that makes me feel guilty, or sad, or regretful. So maybe I’m trying to punish myself for those transgressions. Maybe I feel, deep down, unworthy of the feelings of wholeness and contentment that have come with learning Wu Ming Qigong. That could certainly be an old brain habit, as I was taught as a young person (by outside voices) that I was not good enough, not pretty enough, not graceful enough... just not enough.
So the hard work NOW, now that I know the path (for me) to self-healing, wholeness, happiness and contentment, and yes, even patience… is stopping myself when I start to wander off into the tall weeds. As I’m wandering away, training myself to say, “Stop. You can stay on this path of patience, contentment, and health. Because there’s nothing you’ve done that is so bad, that you deserve pain and illness. When you are wrong, you admit it. When you have hurt someone, you apologize. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and acceptance that you give your own child, your spouse, your loved ones, every single day. Be the friend and mother to yourself, that you are to others. It’s okay to do this. I mean, go on and wander off the path for a day or two, if you must, but remember to come right back to this. Because this is good and kind, it is a way to be loving to yourself, and you need it. What's more, you deserve it. You are enough.”
I think now, the biggest hurdle? Finding the patience to keep working on that last bit.